Wednesday, 24 December 2008

The 10 Greatest Christmas Movies of All Time

Of course, that's excluding time that hasn't occurred yet. I can't predict the future.

This marks the first of countless and pointless top 10 posts that I'm sure this blog shall see.

And seeing as it's Christmas eve, I thought a list of the 10 greatest Christmas films was in order. Of course, this is just my opinion, but it's also the correct opinion because I'm an arrogant bastard.

10. Elf

"It's just like Santa's workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms... and everyone looks like they wanna hurt me..."

Jon Favreau made his name as a director with this year's Iron Man, but this film always served as a glimpse of good things to come.
Elf stars Will Ferell as the titular being and he gives an extremely energetic performance in what has to be his third best film as a lead man (might not sound like much, but there's no beating Stranger Than Fiction or Anchorman). Will's character, Buddy, is a human who was raised as an elf in Santa's workshop. He learns of his true past and goes on a quest to find his biological father in New York. What ensues is a Christmassy fish-out-of-water comedy.
In my mind, any Christmas-themed family film that includes a scene in which an 'elf' pisses off a dwarf by confusing him for one of Santa's helpers is doing something right. And that's why this film works (surprisingly) so well as a comedy. It's heartfelt but it has an anarchic streak (for example, the North Pole is full of crudely animated snowmen and reindeer mocking many a Christmas classic).
The film isn't amazing, but it's one of the best Christmas family comedies around.

9. Lethal Weapon

"Have you ever met anybody you didn't kill?"

It's a buddy cop movie pairing someone dealing with Christmassy suicidal feelings up with Danny Glover. What's not to love there?
The film sees Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs, a policeman who is willing to take more risks than most due to the fact that he's suicidal being assigned to a case as partner to Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), who persistently lets us know that he's "too old for this shit". Together they uncover a drugs smuggling operation and despite pissing each other a lot, they become friends.
From that plot description, I hope it's fairly obvious that the film does nothing particularly differently to any buddy cop movie; however what it does, it does pretty much to perfection. This film is great Christmas fun without all the soppy bits.

8. Home Alone

"He's only a kid Harry. We can take him."

It gets an unfair rap from critics; it's no masterpiece but it's consistently charming and captivates kids. It even has Joe Pesci!
Macaulay Culkin stars as Kevin McCallister, an annoying little kid who is part of a large family going on holiday for Christmas. And in what can only be described as a hideous piece of child-negligence that ought to have landed Kevin's parents in jail, a madcap comic tale ensues when Kevin is left (as the title suggests) home alone.
Joe Pesci and some other burglar noone cares about are working their way through the street robbing everyone's houses because they know people are away on holiday. They soon learn that the only person guarding Kevin's house (full of valuables) is a small child, who they believe they can easily outsmart, but they can't.
It's a perfect set up for a family comedy. It's just a shame that Joe Pesci wasn't allowed to swear.

7. Millions

"The French have said au revoir to the franc, the Germans have said auf wiedersehen to the mark, and the Portuguese have said... whatever to their thing."

Danny Boyle is currently working his way towards doing the Kubrickian thing of making a fantastic film in every genre. Of course his films are a lot less close to perfection, but all the same, Millions is an absolutely fantastic family film.
It follows Damian, a boy who lives moreorless in a world of his own childish wonder. He moves home with his brother and father after losing his mother, and then a bag stuffed full of money literally falls out of the sky when he is out playing by himself one day. The catch is that the UK is about to switch currency from Pound Sterling to the Euro which leaves him only a matter of days to actually spend the money.
It's ever so entertaining and actually contains some very good morals and such -and best of all, not the usual Christmas ones.

6. Die Hard 2

"How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?"

First, apologies as this film's inclusion pretty much guarentees the first film a spot higher up in the list... or does it? ...Yes it does.
In a rather ridiculous set up, John McClane, the ultimate bad-ass (played by Bruce Willis) encounters pretty much the exact same outlandish situation of the first Die Hard, except in an airport instead of up a skyscraper; which means the terrorists have aeroplanes to play with. For those of you unfamiliar with Die Hard (if you're not a woman, there's no excuse), that means terrorists take over the place and start making demands; meanwhile, New York cop John McClane who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ends up being drawn into fighting the bad guys and saving the day.
The film does everything the first film did, Christmas, elevators and all. And whilst it's not even close to as good as the first film, it's more than just a tired re-tread. It's a kickass action movie for all us blokey men-types. Fights on top of aircrafts, big-ass explosions and the best "Yippee ki yay mother fucker" in the whole Die Hard franchise; this film has a hell of a lot going for it. Christmas cheer included.

5. Bad Santa

"Why don't you wish in one hand, and shit in the other? See which one fills up first."

Bad Santa is the anti-Christmas movie. It's about a conman played by Billy Bob Thornton who robs convenience stores at Christmas by working as their Santa for the kids. Essentially he pulls an inside job. He then befriends a loser-kid and things get interesting.
This film is a great little black comedy with a great premise and a good cast. It's a good watch and Christmassy in an odd way.

4. The Great Escape

"It is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability."

I'm not really sure why this film is a Christmas film, but it is because it's on TV every Christmas day and it's a tradition for many to watch it. Somehow, it's just become part of Christmas despite not actually having anything to do with it in the subject matter.
That aside, it's a great and overall uplifting film, although less relevant today than when it was made. For some reason, it's just the perfect film for old people to fall asleep to after eating too much on Christmas day.

3. It's a Wonderful Life


This is the ultimate feel-good movie. James Stewart is one of the greatest actors of all time, and this film is possibly his finest work. But it's hard not to love this film, it deals with Christmas depression and yet turns it all around into something so joyous by the end of it.
Basically, the film sees a man be hit by a barrage of horrible events that drive him to attempt suicide on Christmas eve; but an angel appears at the last minute who shows him how the world would be without him and how he really means a lot to so many people, which of course makes him see that life is in fact worth living.
Not only is this one of the best Christmas films of all time, it's one of the the best films of all time, period.

2. Die Hard

"Yippee ki yay, mother fucker!"

As far as action films go, Die Hard is second only to Terminator 2 in terms of awesomeness and badassery. You're not a real man until you've seen Die Hard.
New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) goes to visit his wife at a business party type shindig that she's attending in LA on Christmas eve. A bunch of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) take the party hostage, but John is able to make a stealthy escape before being discovered. Once out of the hostage area, he strives to bring down the terrorist operation from the inside.
Die Hard is fantastic. Not only does it feature the talents of both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, but it's also the film that started the trend of action films in confined places (Speed for example), and none have topped it yet. Not the most Christmassy film on here, but who the hell cares?

1. The Nightmare Before Christmas

"What's this? What's this? There's magic in the air!"

The Nightmare Before Christmas is an incredible film. It's Tim Burton's best work (despite him not directing it), it's the best stop-start animated film ever made and it features one of the best selections of songs from any musical ever. Danny Elfman's music is spectacular; there's not a single bad song in the film and the vast majority of them are brilliant. The score itself is also one of the best I have ever heard. It so brilliantly weaves the magic of Christmas with the macabre nature of Halloween. And that's another thing this film deserves praise for: it's inspired concept.
Jack Skellington is mayor of Pumpkin Town, a place existing within the world of Halloween. They live for the holiday; it's their purpose in life. He has recently begun to feel empty and as if something is missing in his life; then he stumbles across a portal into Christmas Land, a place existing within the world of Christmas. After being encapsulated by the joy of Christmas and all the new concepts he learns in his brief stay there, Jack attempts to bring Christmas to Pumpkin Town, with fairly iffy results.
It's a masterpiece and the best Christmas classic I know of. If you haven't seen it, then there's no better time to check it out than now.

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